Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Bible Does NOT Condemn Homosexuality

Here’s a newsflash to Ted Haggard: God doesn’t care if you’re gay, get over it. I’m so tired of hearing the reckless religious wrong using the scriptures of my cherished religious tradition to attack people.

Here is why I don’t believe the Bible condemns homosexuals. You’re free to disagree with me, but you’d be wrong to do so. You’re also free to lift poisonous snakes above your head in an ecstatic quasi-religious pose or put sheets over your head at the next meeting of the grand dragon or even be a total Republican hypocrite and vote for the very pro-gay Rudy Giuliani in the next election. You’d also be wrong, very wrong, again.

Conservatives always try to narrow the Bible down to small details that actually contradict the broader view of scripture. It is a classic case of missing the forest for the trees. No one in their right mind today would use the Bible to argue that slavery is moral – yet that is exactly what was argued using supporting details of certain verses rather than taking the themes of scripture as a whole for guiding principles. This same thinking is being used today to prevent the extension of basic rights to another minority population -- homosexuals. The details provide context of Biblical stories, but not core themes. To focus on such contextual details is to commit Bibliolatry and miss the point of Scripture entirely.

Here’s an example. If I were to tell you that Dick Cheney committed treason by talking to Robert Novak, you might be tempted to agree even though you knew it was illogical. If I were to tell you that Dick Cheney committed treason by betraying CIA operant Valerie Plame, you would of course agree whole-heartedly (unless of course you hate America, you America-hater you). What is important to understand is that Dick Cheney committed treason by outing an American CIA operant, not in how he did it. There. You are free to talk to Robert Novak again, in case you were worried. It’s often a similar case in the Bible. Homosexuality is often the context but not the message.

So let’s talk about the nitty gritty texts that might get tossed around at your next BBB meeting.

In terms of the Old Testament, Mosaic and Levitical law is considered even by most conservative theologians to no longer apply after Christ's sacrifice. In other words, if someone is quoting from Leviticus to say homosexuality is wrong, ask them why they eat pork, or wear cotton and wool in the same coat, or get tattoos or even mix their grass seeds.

In the Genesis story of Sodom, you can interpret the passage very narrowly and say that homosexuality is being condemned. But to me, you would have to shut your eyes to the explicit violence of the passage which is really talking about rape. Taking the broader view of scripture, and not the contextual details, this is certainly not a passage that condemns loving, long-term, mutual commitment. Again, you’re free to talk to Robert Novak. Focus not on the how but on the why.

As for the New Testament, in some areas with Paul (Romans 1, for example) if you look at the intent of the passages he seems to be saying "don't go against your nature," or also, don't fall back into paganism, more so than don't be homosexual. Of course this is not a literal reading of the contextual details, but one that tries to appreciate the larger context of the Christian message of love, monogamy, caring, compassion, etc. If you take this in terms of that total context and also in the broader scope of scripture, you could read Romans 1 and say that it is a sin for a homosexual to go against their nature and act heterosexually. Certainly, that seems to be very pragmatic advice for the Ted Haggards of the world. Robert Novak was not available for comment.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 in some translations, Paul condemns the "effeminate and abusers of themselves with mankind." But these are arguably imprecise translations. The Greek word for effeminate could also mean cowardly and the passage is most likely an indictment of temple prostitution, which degraded and abused young boys. To argue that a passage condemning cowards and pedophiles should apply to loving committed couple of any sexual preference is nonsense. Take that, Robert Novak, you paleoconservative.

There is more evidence every day that sexual preference is at least in some way influenced by your genes. I can't imagine that Christ's radically inclusive life and message could ever be mangled to argue that loving, committed homosexual couples should be denied the same rights that my wife and I enjoy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Thank-you!

11:39 PM  

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